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Balancing Accounts

Yiska Kahan

The rug was deep brown, with a pattern of purple swirls. He was thrilled; she hated it. “It was 50 percent off,” Gershon said, bending down to straighten the corner. It was on the tip of Chevy’s tongue to say, “But we don’t need a rug.” Or to quote Rav Avigdor Miller, “When you see a sign advertising 50 percent off, keep walking and save the other 50 percent!” But he was so excited, and the relationship was still fresh and new, so she smiled and said, “It’s really beautiful.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In general, Chevy didn’t care about curtains and carpets, not even at 50, 75, or 100 percent off. Not that she was completely altruistic. She spent money on a nice sweater, or steak for Rosh Chodesh supper. She just didn’t need to accessorize, to fill her home with the extra “stuff.” When she visited other people’s apartments, filled with dried flowers, elegant photo frames, and tasseled curtains, she admired their taste, yet felt no need to compete.

“Oh, what a lovely pattern,” she enthused , when her sister Dassy showed her the new placemats she had picked out. Yet it would never occur to her to spend money on placemats herself. If there was good food on the table, good company in the home, why consider placemats?

And she had been sure Gershon never considered them important either.

He came from a home like hers, with many siblings in a small house, and both parents in chinuch. They weren’t poor, but there was no room for extras.

Chevy was comfortable with Gershon and with his family from the moment they first met. Their vort was as she had imagined it would be. Platters of cake, bowls of salad and fruits, all laid out in the living room. The men danced with gusto in the dining room with the table shoved against the wall. Gershon had sent her an elegant flower arrangement and her mother had draped the radiator with a lace tablecloth and placed the urn on it. It was a beautiful, homey simchah.

Although Gershon was very aware of the friends that couldn’t be there, he was conscious of the out-of-town warmth that characterized his simchah. He stood next to his father, and Zevy, the one brother who had made the drive to Detroit. Chevy was vibrant with excitement, and Gershon was very proud of her. He was looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her. As his mind wandered and he glanced around the plain paneled walls, the simple décor took on an unreal glow of happiness. Yet, he vaguely wondered what the future would bring. He came from the same Torah simplicity as Chevy, but had spent his youth struggling to improve on that simplicity. He looked at the room, and wondered when he would finally “arrive.”


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